Exercise - Focusing Attention
(Ages 8 through Adult)
Good for developing sustained attention and reducing anxiety.
Before you begin place an object in the middle of the space to help focus and fix your attention on one spot. Make sure you don’t have other competing activities going on around you (i.e. the TV is off, the kids are taken care of, cell phone is off…). And find a comfortable spot. This exercise can be done in groups and is good for ages 8 and older.
We are going to play a game without moving at all. This game is about focusing on what you notice.
Now, with your eyes open, I want you to focus on the middle of the room. Give the object in the middle of the room your full attention. Notice the colors and shapes. Imagine what it would feel like if you touched it. Does it cast any shadows? Does the light make part of it appear to shine? Imagine what the side that you can’t see would look like. Do you think that it has a smell? If you shook it, would it make a noise? Notice every detail of the object.
Now look at the wall directly in front of you. Focus on the spot on the wall right in front of you at the level of your eyes. Notice that as you shifted your focus it felt as though you moved even though you haven't. And, now you can see more of the room even though you continue to keep your eyes focused on the spot in front of you. Notice that without moving your eyes you can still see the object in the middle of the room. You can probably even see in the periphery of your vision the other walls in the room.
Now let's bring our attention back to the object in the middle of the room. Notice again the feel of having moved as your attention narrows to this one spot. And, again notice all the details of the object letting it take your full attention.
Now go ahead and let your eyes close as you breathe in nice as slowly. Notice that while you have been breathing this whole time, you just now notice that the air feels cool feeling as it comes in through your noise. Feel the sensation of begin lifted up, ever so slightly, as your lungs fill with air and your chest rises. Let the breath fill all the way down to your stomach making your tummy push out slightly. Let yourself feel the fullness of the breath in your body. Then, slowly, let the breath out. Feel the sensation of your chest and stomach as you sink down heavier into the chair that supports you.
As you take another breath, decide where in your body you feel your breath the most easily. Do you notice the rise and fall of your chest? Is it the cool sensation of the air coming in your noise? Or, do you like how it pushes your tummy in and out? Where every you feel your breath the most, focus on it and take three more slow natural breaths.
And now let’s take a deep breath filling your body with as much air as it can possibly hold and stretch, open your eyes, and we’re done. Good job.